Oh, The Horror…

2 thoughts on “Oh, The Horror…”

  1. This is a compelling and exciting story. And you end with a great teaser.

    But, before I go on, I’m going to pause to offer a meditation on attitudes about race. I hope you don’t mind me doing this. One of the marks of good writing is that it enables the reader to see others in a different light. It is even more remarkable and rare that a writer will cause the reader to pause and look at himself in a different light. But, you have done that.

    In the course of relating denouement to this terrifying tale, you mention in passing that you were a cute black girl. In the course of reading your blog, I have been picturing you as a cute white girl. (Did I miss something in an earlier post?) The image in my mind had to change. This led me to ask myself some questions.

    The first is why I had pictured you as white in the first place. I like to tell myself that I am not racist. I suppose part of the reason is that most if not all people tend to have a sort of default mode, in which we think of the “normal” or “average” person as being like ourselves. Lacking information, we fill in the blanks based on who we are. There is also a racist social norm, in which the race of an actor is mentioned only if the race is other than white. The news identifies the race of a minority suspect, but not a white suspect. (I think that is changing, yet here I find myself subject to the same blind spot).

    But I have been having another, more troubling thought. I also think my image was influenced by the quality of your writing. I think you sounded white to me. Why did you sound white? Is it because you are articulate, display a subtle wit? Why am I surprised to find those characteristics in the writing of an African-American woman.

    And, how does your race affect the story? Do I have different ideas about how others have treated you? Would Jen have been as cruel and heartless in her treatment of you if you were not black? What were the races of the other women in the car? Would the hospital personnel have treated you differently if you were a sluttily dressed white girl?

    I’m sure some of these questions must have occurred to you. I know that this must be a subtext to many of your interactions. When you are treated badly, you can never be certain whether race played a role. It must also have a lot to do with your interactions with patrons: their assumptions about what kind of person you are.

    I hope you don’t mind me throwing all of this out in the middle of your blog. It has been a fascinating read.

    Now, on to the next chapter in your communications with Jen.


    1. Hi Mike, thanks for such an honest and open assessment. It’s true that people have a social default – me included. And I, too, have a personal bias. I’m multi-racial and have experienced prejudices from both sides of the fence. But when I read and let my imagination wander through other musings, I visualize white people as well, unless otherwise indicated. As you get further along, I share a bit more regarding my own tousle with racial identity and ignorance. I’m loving all of your comments. Thanks so much!


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